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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

17 Jan '13

Embracing the discipline of thinking deeply

Posted by T.J. Addington in critical thinking, thinking

Good leaders are good thinkers. They have embraced the "discipline" of thinking - and it is a discipline that can be learned, sharpened and honed with time and practice.

There are others who have ambition but not the will to think deeply. Instead of thinking deeply they copy ideas of others and apply them to their ministry, hoping for the same results. Usually they don't get the same results because they did not understand the underpinnings of the strategy that came from deep strategic thought.

The more leadership responsibility one has the more one needs to set aside for thinking - away from distractions, email, and interruptions. Where you have other deeply insightful and strategic people on staff you will want to engage them in dialogue on critical issues you face. Some think best in solitude, some think best in dialogue. Either way, the intellectual capital of others plays a major role in coming to the best solutions.

As an organizational leader, I allocate about 25% of my time for thinking, analysis, considering options and dialoguing with other key individuals. Most people gravitate toward action. Leaders activate but only after a lot of deep thinking.

Leaders also practice "grey thought." Thinking grey is the ability to evaluate and consider many different options - some of them contradictory - without coming to a conclusion until one needs to. Here is an irony. Great leaders put off making decisions as long as they can so that they can do all the grey thinking possible. That way when they come to a conclusion, they have considered as many of the ramifications as possible and have a much higher wisdom and success ratio than those who make quick decisions.

Distractions are the greatest threat to deep thinking. Twitter, facebook, CNN, Fox, Sirius, the pace of life, and the obligations we have all rob us of think time. They are good if used well and unhelpful if not. Those who run too fast - even with great success - often crash. They lose their bearings that could have been saved if they had taken the time to consider and think about their ministry and their personal life. This is why my study is a haven for me, it is a place to stay grounded, think deeply and avoid distractions.

Our own spiritual development is integrally tied to the discipline of thinking. One of the reasons for the shallow discipleship of our world today is that we don't take the time to consider the implications of what God says in his word. Reading his word or listening to a message is easy. Making thoughtful application of that word to our lives is far more complex and difficult.

Those who display Biblical wisdom are people who think deeply rather than shallowly and often rather than seldom.